In recent years, there has been much interest in the use of so-called automatic balancing devices (ABD) in rotating machinery. Essentially, ABDs or “autobalancers” consists of several freely moving eccentric balancing masses mounted on the rotor, which, at certain operating speeds, act to cancel rotor imbalance at steady-state. This “automatic balancing” phenomena occurs as a result of nonlinear dynamic interactions between the balancer and rotor wherein the balancer masses naturally synchronize with the rotor with appropriate phase and cancel the imbalance. However, due to inherent nonlinearity of the autobalancer, the potential for other, undesirable, non-synchronous limit-cycle behavior exists. In such situations, the balancer masses do not reach their desired synchronous balanced steady-state positions resulting in increased rotor vibration. Such automatic behavior has been widely studied and is well understood for rotor systems on idealized bearings with symmetric supports. This paper presents a comprehensive study into automatic balancing behavior of an imbalanced planar rigid rotor/ABD system mounted in two different widely-used types of hydrodynamic bearings; i) the short journal bearing with asymmetric stiffness, damping and cross-coupling terms and ii) a so-called tilting-pad bearing. In this study the non-dimensional characteristic curves of stiffness and damping of these two fluid film bearings are employed and the rotor/bearing/ABD system autobalancing behavior is studied as a function of rotor speed, bearing eccentricity and bearing journal radial clearance. These two essential bearing parameters in turn are directly determined by the rotor static loading, bearing structure, and oil viscosity. Consequently, this research focuses on the connectivity between the bearing parameters and the corresponding synchronous balancing and non-synchronous limit-cycle behavior of the system. Here, solutions for rotor limit-cycle amplitudes and corresponding autobalancer ball speeds are obtained via a harmonic balance and numerical continuation solution approach. Furthermore, an exact solution for the limit-cycle is obtained for the special case of symmetric support stiffness together with a so-called Alford’s force cross-coupling term. In each case, the limit-cycle stability is assessed via a perturbation and Floquet analysis and the coexistence of the stable balanced synchronous limit-cycle and undesired non-synchronous limit-cycle is studied. It is found that for certain combinations of bearing parameters and operating speeds, the non-synchronous limit-cycle can be made unstable thus guaranteeing global asymptotic stability of the synchronous balanced condition. Finally, the analysis is validated through numerical time-domain simulation. The findings in this paper yield important insights for researchers wishing to utilize automatic balancing devices in practical rotor systems.

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